The best things often come in small packages

The older I get and the more Christmas’ I celebrate, the more I realise that the smaller gifts are always the best. As a child I obviously thought differently, pushing past anything that was small and beautifully wrapped, in search of bike, a scalextric set or a new football goal.

I was often tricked by my Dad who loved to put the smallest of gifts in the largest of boxes, but at the age of 11 I remained hopeful that on one occasion it might just be that life sized robot or superhero figure!

Age and experience, however, has taught me not to despise or overlook the small things. Often the things that have the greatest impact can arrive in small and seemingly insignificant ways.

Nazareth was a small town with probably only 400 inhabitants. In addition to its physical size it had an even smaller reputation. It was one of the disciples Nathaniel who, when he was invited to follow Jesus, expressed, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’

Bethlehem wasn't much bigger, both could have been easily overlooked for neighbouring Jerusalem, the place where the real business took place. Yet it was in this seemingly insignificant surrounding that a most significant event took place.

Bethlehem was well known for one or two things, growing crops, particularly wheat and barley. In fact the Hebrew meaning for Bethlehem is ‘House of Bread.’ How remarkable that the Bread of Life was born in the bread basket of Bethlehem.

On the Arabic side of the town there was a different perspective on this new arrival. In the North West region, sheep were reared and cared for, often in advance of being used for sacrifice in Jerusalem. For these people Bethlehem was interpreted ‘House of Meat/Flesh.’ Later when Jesus said to his followers ‘this bread is my flesh’ it would have brought together both sides of the region and brought a deeper meaning to the original listeners. The arrival of this small gift had a greater significance than we can imagine.

How did God package Himself as He embarked on the rescue mission? A tiny baby, born in a tiny town, with parents from a place of seeming insignificance!

I wonder if we make the mistake as Christians of underestimating the significance of the arrival of Jesus. That moment when the Word became flesh? Have we repackaged our understanding or view of the Saviour in a way that limits our expectation of His active involvement in our world?

There are parts of the church that focus on the practical expression of the love of Jesus for the world. If we are not careful we can easily view Jesus from the perspective of being the one who provides for us, meets our needs, hears our prayers and by definition of his character attends every one of our worship services. Our expectation of Jesus can be reduced to that of a cosmic slot machine ready to respond to our requests.

There are equally other Christians who focus on the Lordship of Christ, the fear of God and His death and sacrifice on the cross. Often not conveying the closeness of Jesus and His Spirit in our daily lives.

As the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem all those years ago would have presented a high definition surround sound view of the Saviour in this small seemingly insignificant place, let’s not be distracted by the size of packaging and lose sight of the present and eternal significance of the birth of our Saviour.

Question: How do you view the significance of the arrival of Jesus on earth? Leave a comment below.

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